Learning objectives for the MPH (Master of Public Health degree)

The MPH program is designed so that an MPH student will achieve the 31 learning objectives listed below by the time he or she graduates. These objectives cover seven different domains: basic health science skills, analytic skills, communication skills, cultural skills, library research skills, computer skills, and synthesis and integration skills.

Basic health science skills:

Define, assess and understand the health status of populations, determinants of health and illness, factors contributing to health promotion and disease prevention, and factors influencing the use of health services.

Understand research methods in all basic public health sciences.

Apply the basic public health sciences, including epidemiology, health and policy administration, behavioral and social sciences, biostatistics, and environmental public health, to the prevention of chronic and infectious diseases and injuries.

Understand the historical development and structure of state, local and federal public health-related agencies.

Understand the health care delivery system.

Understand how to advocate for public health programs and resources.

Understand the role of obtaining input from individuals and organizations.

Understand the impact of public policies and public policy-making on oneís work in public health.

Know the institutions and processes of public policy-making.

Recognize relevant theories of social policy and how they explain public policy-making.

Understand how to participate in and contribute to strategic and tactical planning.

Know how to develop and justify a budget.

Understand what is required to lead an organization, including knowing how to coordinate teams, manage conflict and motivate staff.

Know what is required to assess an organizationís structure and performance.

Analytic skills:

Know how to define a problem.

Determine the appropriate use of data and statistical methods for problem identification and resolutions; and program planning, implementation and evaluation.

Select and define variables relevant to defined public health problems.

- Know how data illuminate ethical, political, scientific, economic and overall public health issues.

Cultural skills:

Have an in-depth understanding of the dynamic forces of cultural diversity.

Be able to interact sensitively, effectively and professionally with persons from diverse cultural, socioeconomic, educational and professional backgrounds, and with persons of all ages and lifestyle preferences.

Be able to identify the role of cultural, social and behavioral factors in determining disease, disease prevention, health promoting behavior, and medical service organization and delivery.

Understand how to develop and adapt approaches to problems that take into account cultural differences.

Library research skills:

Be able to define a problem for purposes of literature research process.

Demonstrate library skills, including the ability to conduct computerized literature searches.

Computer skills:

Be able to use one of several statistical packages (e.g., SAS).

Have knowledge of the use of basic data management software.

Have knowledge of the use of graphics software packages (e.g., POWERPOINT).

Synthesis and integration skills:

Be able to synthesize and integrate core public health knowledge and analytic tools.

Be able to integrate public health theory and practice.

Understand how to apply knowledge to public health practice.


Program Requirements by Degree and Division

Master of Public Health

The Master of Public Health (MPH) is the basic professional degree offered by the School of Public Health (SPH). It is designed to ensure that upon graduation the student has a general understanding of the broad field of public health and a specific competence in a particular public health area. It is intended to prepare students for public health practice or to continue specialized education through matriculation for a doctoral degree.

Programs of study leading to the MPH degree are offered by each of the following four SPH Divisions:

Community Health Sciences

Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences

Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Health Policy and Administration

Admissions Procedures

An applicant for admission to the MPH program must specify a Division in which to specialize. The application for admission is then reviewed by that particular Division where a recommendation for acceptance into either the Professional Enhancement or Comprehensive Program, or a recommendation to deny is made. Final admission decisions are made by the Dean. Upon admission to the program, the MPH student is assigned an advisor with interests and expertise compatible with the student's experience and goals. Together, the student and the advisor develop a program of study.

Change in Division

If a student's interests change after admission or the student determines that professional goals would be better achieved in a division different from the one originally assigned, the student should address a petition for change to the Dean with consenting signatures of the current Division Director and advisor, and the proposed Division Director and desired advisor.

MPH Bypass Procedure

With the approval of the student's advisor and the Division Director, a student may choose to enter the DrPH program and not complete the MPH essay, the MPH field experience, and other designated requirements. A written letter of application must be made to justify this transfer. Division admission committees will review the justification letter and an accompanying transcript. Recommendations for approving the bypass will be made to the Senior Associate Dean for final approval. A request for the transfer of MPH courses to the DrPH program will be submitted to the Director of Student Academic Services.

Requirements for Admission

The MPH degree is awarded under the authority of the School of Public Health. Application for admission should be made using appropriate forms provided by the SPH Office of Admissions. Applicants must possess a bachelor's or higher degree from an accredited school. Additional requirements are as specified by each SPH Division. All applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendation, a statement of career goals, and all college-level transcripts.

Most applicants are required to submit GRE scores. Exceptions may include the following, depending on the specific division policies:

  • applicants with a graduate or professional degree at the doctoral level (e.g., PhD, ScD, MD, DDS, DO, DVM, JD) from an accredited U.S. or Canadian school, provided the prior training is relevant to the basic field of the Division of application and as determined by the policies of the Division;
  • MPH applicants with the above-stated degrees from foreign schools whose applications are sponsored by an accepted referral service, such as AFGRAD, AMIDEAST;
  • physicians who have been accepted into either of the joint occupational residency programs and physicians who are licensed to practice in the U.S.
  • applicants to a dual degree program may be able to submit scores from a test other than the GRE depending on the program (e.g., MCAT for medicine/public health combined degree program).

Applicants seeking a waiver from the GRE testing requirement must submit the application in sufficient time to take the GREís and to have the scores sent to the School by the application deadline, in the event the requested waiver is denied. The basis of a request for waiver must be stated in a cover letter.

Admitted students typically have at least an undergraduate/graduate grade point average of 4.00 (A=5.00) and a combined GRE of at least 1,000 (verbal plus quantitative). Divisions may have additional requirements.

Conditional Admission Policy Statement

Under special circumstances, an applicant may be recommended by a Division for admission on a conditional basis (e.g., completion of preparatory course work). The conditions under which a student is admitted to the School are to be stipulated in writing by the director of the Division recommending admission of the student. Conditionally admitted students must satisfy the conditions prior to graduation (or earlier if so specified by the Division).

Deadline for Completing Degree Requirements

MPH students must complete all degree requirements within five calendar years after their initial registration as a degree student within the SPH. In extraordinary circumstances an extension of time may be granted if the petition for an extension is filed before meeting the 5-year deadline. Time spent on an approved leave of absence is not counted toward the degree time limit (see Leave of Absence).

Program of Study

The program of study leading to the MPH degree is flexible to permit an interface with the individual student's past experience and future career goals. Thus, a student with a previous public health background may matriculate in a 33-38 semester hour Professional Enhancement Program whereas the student with limited or no health background will matriculate in an extended Comprehensive Program. Both programs comprise five components: (a) required courses, (b) a field practicum (usually during the summer semester), waivable on the basis of professional public health experience, (c) electives, (d) a capstone experience, and (e) where required by the Division, an essay. In some Divisions, the field practicum and/or essay may satisfy the capstone requirement.

Professional Enhancement Program (PEP) Curriculum

The Professional Enhancement Program (PEP) Curriculum consists of course work and a capstone experience related to general public health knowledge. This curriculum is oriented to students with three or more years of previous experience in a public health-related field who intend to pursue a public health career in the same professional area. While divisional requirements vary, full-time students whose program is limited to this curriculum will likely complete it during one calendar year.

Eligibility for this program includes students with pre-matriculation professional education (at a masterís, or doctoral level, as appropriate to the professional field) or equivalent professional experience of at least three years' duration who intend to pursue a public health career in the same professional area. Examples of degrees which may be acceptable are the following: DDS, DO, DVM, JD, MD, PhD (e.g., microbiology, psychology, sociology), DEng, MBA, MSW, MS (e.g., entomology, nutrition, physical therapy). Others may be acceptable as individually justified.

Comprehensive Curriculum

The Comprehensive Curriculum is oriented to the student with limited or no background in a health-related field. Students with a health background who are changing careers may also opt for this program. This curriculum consists of all the requirements of the professional enhancement program curriculum plus extended course work in a Division specialty. The Division may have an extensive core of required courses or may permit highly individualized programs based on student interests. The specific content of this curriculum is determined by the Division Director with the student and his/her advisor and will involve between 38-60 SH of course work.

Semester hour requirements for the Master of Public Health Program are:

Professional Enhancement Comprehensive
SPH Core Courses
Electives and Division Requirements
IPHS 650 Field Experience (Practicum)
Total Required for Graduation
18 SH
15-17 SH*
0-3 SH
33-38 SH
18 SH
Variable up to 40 SH
3-5 SH
Variable up to 60 SH
*Certain divisions may require more semester hours.

Core Courses:

EPID 400 Principles of Epidemiology (3 sh)
BSTT 400 Biostatistics I (3 sh)
HPA 400 Principles of Management in Public Health (3 sh)
CHSC 400 Public Health Concepts and Practice (3 sh)
EOHS 400 Principles of Environmental Health Sciences (3 sh)
HPA 401 Behavioral Sciences in Public Health (2 sh) (formerly IPHS 401)
IPHS 698 MPH Capstone Experience (1 sh)
Total 18 SH

*Students are encouraged to take EPID 400 and BSTT 400 by the end of the second semester of residence. EPID 400 and BSTT 400 are prerequisites for many other 400-level and 500-level courses.

**The capstone experience can be both based on and satisfied by a variety of activities that culminate into one public health experience. The requirements for the capstone experience differ by SPH Division and are described in this handbook under each division.

Electives: Division requirements for electives vary based on track and program.

Independent Study Hours (IPHS 596): Students may use Independent Study (IPHS 596) to satisfy elective hours. Up to 4 SH of Independent Study may be credited for graduation for programs of study requiring 32-35 SH. For degree programs requiring greater than 35 SH, 1 SH of independent study may be credited toward graduation for each additional 5 SH of formal course work taken, to a maximum of 9 SH.

Field Experience (IPHS 650): Except where explicitly waived, a field experience/practicum (IPHS650) is required of all MPH students in the School of Public Health.

Overall Objective

Students will acquire experience and develop skills in the application of basic public health concepts and of specialty knowledge to the solution of public health problems.

Specific Learning Objectives

Through the field experience, MPH students will be able to:

Field Experience Process

Students may begin the field experience following completion of all MPH course requirements or with consent of the advisor and the division director. Students must have permission of their faculty advisor prior to registration for IPHS650. The field experience may be taken in a single semester or over several semesters for a total of 3-5 sh. The number of hours will be decided by the student and his/her advisor. One semester hour of credit is awarded for every 64 contact hours. The field experience may be waived at the time of admission (decided by the divisional admissions committee) or by petition at the time the student's program proposal is presented for approval.

Planning begins with the student developing his/her own educational objectives with the approval of the faculty advisor.

(CHS Students should refer to their divisional Student Handbook for the field practicum protocol.)

Identify Potential Field Sites

Make a list of potential sites that you would like to consider for a field experience. At the same time, it is important that you consider and identify your reasons for wanting to work for each organization you select.

Make an appointment with Faculty Advisor

If you have a clear idea of the type of field experience you desire and can identify organizations which provide the experience, please schedule an appointment with your faculty advisor to discuss your area of interest and your desire to obtain an appropriate field experience. If your advisor is in agreement, you may contact the organizations of interest directly.

Make Initial Contact with Chosen Organization(s)

The initial inquiry will determine whether there is a position available and what the organizationís protocol would be. At this time, the four forms necessary to initiate and complete a field experience can be obtained from the divisional student handbook if you are a CHS student and from Gwen Slaughter, Student Affairs, Room 183/SPHPI if you are a BSTT, EOHS, EPID or HPA student.

Have a Follow-up Discussion with Faculty Advisor/Field Learning Agreement

Once a contact has been made with an organization, the student should discuss the opportunity with his/her advisor to ensure the field practicum will fulfill the requirements agreed upon in their initial meeting.

Submit the Field Learning Agreement/Memorandum of Understanding Forms

A month prior to beginning the field experience, a student must have the Field Learning Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding completed by the preceptor in the field organization, the latter form must be completed in quadruplicate. The original completed forms should be returned to Gwen Slaughter, Student Affairs, Room 183/SPHPI and a copy submitted to your division student coordinator. Students may NOT register for IPHS 650 unless these forms have been submitted and approved by the preceptor and faculty advisor.

Register for IPHS 650

Registration for IPHS 650 occurs during the semester you are beginning your field experience. Acquire a registration form from your division coordinator. Please complete the form and acquire your faculty advisorís signature. Return the completed form to your division coordinator for registration processing. A student may register for three to five semester hours of credit. Each semester hour requires 64 hours of experience in the field. Five semester hours of credit would require a total of 320 hours in the field.

Submit Employer (Preceptor) Evaluation Form/Student Evaluation Form

Approximately two weeks prior to the completion of the field experience, the Employer (Preceptor) Evaluation Form and the Student Evaluation Form should be completed. The original forms should be returned to Gwen Slaughter, Student Affairs, Room 183/SPHPI, and a copy given to your division student coordinator.

Complete Institutional Review Board Requirements, if required.

All students should undergo Institutional Review Board (IRB) training prior to beginning their field experience (IPHS 650) and/or their proposed Capstone project (IPHS 698) if human subject data or analysis is used. Students must submit for IRB review as early as possible, to allow sufficient time for the lengthy review process. Students should consult the SPH Student Reference Guide and their academic advisors to determine the proper IRB procedure to follow. Please note: The field experience and capstone cannot be undertaken without IRB review or exemption.

Responsibilities of the student, faculty advisor and preceptor are discussed below.

Studentís Responsibilities

The Summary Report should include:

Faculty Advisorís Responsibilities

Preceptorís Responsibilities

Field Practicum Forms

The following forms must be used when setting up an agreement with an organization:

Field Learning Agreement

This form is used to help determine and clearly state job duties and responsibilities in objective form. It is mutually developed by the student, preceptor and advisor. The Field Learning Agreement should be completed and signed by all three parties prior to the beginning of the field experience.

Memorandum of Understanding

This form is a formal institutional agreement (contract) that serves to clarify the mutual responsibilities of the participating institution and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). The signed agreement can be used for multiple placements. The memorandum also serves to reassure the employer, that the UIC or a private insurance firm is providing full health coverage of a student.

Employer (Preceptor) Evaluation Form

This form must be completed by the preceptor overseeing the studentís performance and submitted by the student.

Student Evaluation Form

This form must be completed and submitted by the student.

CHS students refer to their divisional student handbook for the field practicum forms

BSTT/EOHS/EPID/HPA should contact Gwen Slaughter, Student Affairs, 183/SPHPI for the field practicum forms.

Conditions for Waiver of the Field Experience/Practicum

The field experience requirement may be waived for students who have had three or more years of relevant professional experience in a similar field of public health for which they are currently pursuing a career (in practice, the field experience is infrequently waived). The field experience may be waived with a petition at the time the student's program proposal is presented for approval. Waiver approval is by the division director and the deanís office.

Capstone Experience (IPHS 698):
Every student must sign up for this course in his or her last semester. The capstone can be based on a variety of activities (e.g. field practicum, independent study, research project) that culminate into a public health experience. The requirement for the capstone experience differs by division, but whatever the activity, all students are required to produce a capstone product which is a report of the capstone experience or activity. The culminating capstone experience enables MPH students to achieve the following learning objectives:

More than one faculty member will evaluate each studentís capstone product. The evaluation should be based on whether the student has met the above objectives.


For capstone experience and capstone product requirements by division, please refer to specific division sections under the MPH degree program in this handbook